Interview with Richard Millener

The team principal of M-Sport Ford, Richard Millener, accepted the invitation of WRC Fanatix and talked about the future plans of the team in the World Rally Championship, while he shared with us one of the most special moments he experienced with M-Sport in the years he works there.

Q: Every year, M-Sport's stay at WRC is a question mark due to financial problems. Do you have any plans for the next few years? 


A: Yes, it is difficult for M-Sport to continually compete at the top level.  Any kind of motorsport is expensive but WRC is the pinnacle of off road motorsport and you are competing against the best so we know the costs to compete will be substantial. However, every year we find new ways to change the way we operate to become more streamlined and ensure that we can compete in WRC.  As we have said before, the added time that we gained during the lockdown has allowed us to concentrate fully on the 2022 WRC car and we have made very good progress with this so it is still our ambition and aim to be in WRC for the continued future and we will work as hard as required to make sure this happens.


Q: In 2022, WRC will enter to a new era with hybrid cars and we heard a couple of months ago that M-Sport is considering replacing the Fiesta with the Puma. Is this scenario true?


A: Decisions are yet to be made about the car we will use in the 2022 season but we do look forward to the introduction and integration of hybrid powertrains into the WRC series and I think this will be a really exciting and new period for WRC.


Q: In Mexico, Esapekka Lappi's car caught fire suddenly  at the end of stage and you said that M-Sport would investigate the cause of the fire. Did you find what caused the fire?


A: Unfortunately the car was so destroyed by the fire that it is impossible to know exactly what happened. We have since returning from Mexico studied some of the footage that we got from WRC during the stage and it does seem that the fire has started under the engine bay somewhere and then spread down the exhaust tunnel where eventually it has melted the brake lines which has caused the fire to increase. At this point it was just impossible to save the car. Losing a car from fire is always one of the worst things that can happen and although we cannot trace what really happened we are confident that this must have been from some kind of impact to the car which has damaged a part and cause the fire.  Mexico was also very hot this year and reasonably slow stages which all combined made a “perfect storm” once the fire started.

Q: The contracts of Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen will expire at the end of this season. Have you already started conversations with a driver for 2021 and which driver would M-Sport prefer to have?


A: At this time we have not started looking at any driver lineups for 2021.  With only three events completed this season it is difficult to make a decision on our line-up for next year now. We do however have hopefully another five events this year and we therefore have time to watch the performances of our drivers and make a decision on 2021 closer to the end of this year.  We have a good selection of drivers that we could decide to use so we are quite comfortable with the current situation.


Q: M-Sport is undoubtedly one of the most historical teams at WRC. Could you share with us one of your most remarkable moments since you started working in this team?


A: Obviously it has been a real honour to be able to be WRC Team Principal since 2019 and this is a goal I had set myself for a number of years and it was really pleasing to be able to reach that goal. Malcolm has always been very good to allow people who are committed and have a real passion for the sport to grow through the company – so for this I feel very lucky.  But, I think the most remarkable moment, that I don’t think can actually ever be beaten, was the Super Sunday in Wales in 2017.  Winning the WRC Championship with Ogier, the manufacturers championship and the rally with Elfyn Evans, all within the space of 10 minutes was just incredible. A memory that I will never forget, especially after it was also on our “home” event!

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